20070707_inq_pviolence07-b.JPGBy: Vernon Clark
The message is plain and to the point: Put it down. As about 200 community activists filled a City Hall reception room yesterday afternoon, they were urged to make sure that message is echoed through the streets of Philadelphia this summer.

“This is a direct appeal to the people on the street to put it down,” said Bilal Qayyum, cofounder of Men United for a Better Philadelphia. “It,” of course, is firearms, and the message was part of the latest campaign to put down violence throughout the city. “We are trying to raise the conscience level, particularly in areas of the city where there have been a lot of shootings, and say to young men: ‘Put it down. Give up your guns,’ ” Qayyum said.

More than 200 homicides were recorded in Philadelphia during the first six months of the year, and the city is on pace to tally more murders than the 406 recorded in 2006. The effort, organized by a coalition of activist groups and city government, calls on community organizations, clergy and nontraditional groups, including entertainment promoters and motorcycle clubs, to lend their voices to spread the word.

“I can remember saying, we need more help here. We need more nontraditional people, people that you wouldn’t think of being at City Hall,” said Mayor Street. “Sixty percent of people who are dying of violence are African American males 16 to 44,” Street said. “We know what’s going on out here. We have to get a message to them. The people in this room can carry this message in a way that is very different from the way I or the police commissioner can.”

Qayyum said one such nontraditional group, Bikers Against Violence, would ride through areas where violence has occurred to draw attention to the problem and the effort to stop it. One effort would be the distribution of about 25,000 T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan and an image of a handgun pushing through a bright red heart, and an equal number of black rubber wristbands with the words: “Put It Down.” Another effort calls for asking young people to sign a “peace pledge” committing them to being “a nonviolent and peaceable person,” to avoid “hateful words,” and “to challenge violence in all its forms . . . whether at home, at school or in the community.”

Another nontraditional group that has joined the effort is Party Promoters Coalition, whose members – rappers, DJs and hip-hop artists – host parties and entertainment events. Party Promoters has pledged to devote at least five minutes at each party or other event to discuss the “Put It Down” campaign and other antiviolence efforts. Street said he was hopeful about the campaign. “I truly believe this is going to have a positive impact on thousands and thousands of young people in this city,” the mayor said.

Qayyum said that during the street-gang wars of the 1970s, when about 80 youths were killed per year, grass-roots groups, police and city government banded together to eliminate the problem. He said he thinks this effort will have similar results.

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  • Opinionated Lady

    It’s kind of sad after all that happen this year people want to just all of sudden raise awareness when it should been said and done when the rise of AA males been in prison.But thats just my opinion.

  • (I will be bringing this tour to Philly)….

    PSA

    In the mid-90’s Greenbriar Mall on Saturday nights was a safe haven for teens to just enjoy themselves and have some good old fashion fun; but twice within the last 3 months it has been a place where tragedy has struck!!!! On Saturday, June 16, 2007, 16 year-olds Kendra Mason and Damien Marcus Harris were gunned down by a troubled 25 year-old; as they exited the mall. This is becoming an all too familiar scene, aspiring young women and men’s lives are being cut short by foolishness. These situations are a direct result of “OUR” young people not having enough positive outlets.
    The S.W.A.T.S. Peace Party will be held at Greenbriar Mall with FREE FOOD, GIVE-AWAYS and “LIVE” entertainment, featuring NATIONALLY renown and LOCAL area artists. This event is dedicated to the loving memories of Kendra Mason and Damien Marcus Harris. We will be collecting donations (clothing, toys, etc.) for Damien’s 2 month old daughter; as well as creating a scholarship in the victims’ honor. For further information, please contact AE Music Group at 404.530.0031 or email Abdul Chestnut at [email protected]

    WHO: Essence Magazine, Atlanta Cares, Greenbriar Mall, God’s Pod Outreach Ministries, Inc., and the Chestnut Brothers
    WHAT: “The Stop the Violence Movement”, S.W.A.T.S Peace Party FOR ALL AGES with FREE food, LIVE NATIONAL entertainment, GIVE AWAYS, and FREE ADMISSIONS
    WHEN: August 11, 2007, from 12pm-4pm
    WHERE: Greenbriar Mall, 2841 Greenbriar Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30331
    WHY: To support the efforts of Atlanta Cares Project sponsored by Essence Magazine.